nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Incineration, Processing and Interim Storage at Okuma-Futaba Facility

As you may see the Mainichi’s article below does mention the incineration which will take place at this facility. The Asahi ‘s article below on the other hand completely omits to talk about the incineration, lying by omission.
The radioactive debris will be first incinerated to reduce their volume to 1/50 of their initial volume, then processed and stored there. The amount of contaminated soil and other waste reaching  up to 22 million cubic meters (metric tons).
However it is important to point out that whatever the type of screening filters used during the incineration they will not retain all the radioactive nanoparticles, that some radioactive nanoparticles will still be released into the air during that incineration.
Thus “storage facility” is a misnomer as it is actually a processing facility before to be a storage facility.
25 oct 2017 Storage Facility Okuma
An intermediate storage facility under construction in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February, with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the background
 

Interim storage site for Fukushima contaminated soil to begin full operations

An interim storage site in Fukushima Prefecture for soil and waste generated when areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis were decontaminated will be put into full-scale operation on Oct. 28, Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said.
Contaminated soil temporarily placed on the premises of the facility, which straddles the prefectural towns of Okuma and Futaba, will be brought into an underground storage site on the property.
The storage site will be the first one in the country to be put into full-scale operation to store contaminated soil and other waste.
“There are numerous challenges that must be overcome, but the start of operations at the facility is an important step toward the final disposal of contaminated soil,” Nakagawa told a news conference on Oct. 24.
The Environment Ministry is constructing the interim storage site on an approximately 16-square-kilometer area around the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Operations at a section of the facility located in Okuma will begin on Oct. 28. After contaminated soil is measured for radiation, the soil will be stored separately at the facility depending on levels of radiation.
Waterproof work has been performed at the site to prevent stored soil from contaminating ground water.
At the site, a plant to incinerate weeds, trees and other flammable materials removed from contaminated soil and a facility to manage incinerated ash containing high levels of radioactive cesium will also be built.
The ministry estimates that the amount of soil and other waste removed from decontaminated sites in the prefecture could reach up to some 22 million cubic meters. Decontamination work is still going on in some areas affected by the nuclear disaster, which broke out in March 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Most of the soil removed from decontaminated areas was put into bags and temporarily stored at various locations in Fukushima Prefecture. Some of the bags have been brought onto the premises for the interim storage site since March 2015.
The central government intends to build a final disposal site outside the prefecture to complete the disposal of contaminated soil by 2045. However, the government has not worked out a specific plan on the final disposal site, such as its location and the timing of its construction.
 

Fukushima debris heading to intermediate storage facility

The Environment Ministry on Oct. 28 will start bringing radiation-contaminated soil to an intermediate storage site in Fukushima Prefecture, despite having acquired less than half of the land needed for the overall project.
The ministry’s announcement on Oct. 24 marks a long-delayed step toward clearing temporary sites that were set up around the prefecture to store countless bags of radioactive debris gathered after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
The entire intermediate storage project will cover a 16-square-kilometer area spanning the towns of Futaba and Okuma around the nuclear plant. It is designed to hold up to 22 million cubic meters of contaminated debris for a maximum period of 30 years.
However, the ministry is still negotiating with landowners on buying parcels of land within the area. As of the end of September, the ministry had reached acquisition agreements for only about 40 percent of the land for the project.
The soil storage facility that will open on Oct. 28 is located on the Okuma side. It has a capacity of about 50,000 cubic meters.
Bags of contaminated soil stored in Okuma will be transferred to the facility, where the debris will be separated based on radiation dosages.
A similar storage facility is being constructed on the Futaba side.
The ministry initially planned to start full-scale operations of the entire storage facility in January 2015. However, it took longer than expected to gain a consensus from local residents and acquire land at the proposed site.
In March 2015, a portion of the contaminated soil was brought to the Okuma facility for temporary storage.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

This week in nuclear, climate, pollution news

Sometimes, it seems  a bit ridiculous to single out the nuclear danger, or the climate danger, from all the other insults that human beings are throwing at the planet. Wars and violence are bad enough, but the overall big killer now is pollution especially where it’s combined with poverty.  It’s surely time to take a global view of our punished biosphere. It’s affecting us, and the biggest organisms, and the smallest  – as with the massive decline in flying insects.

Anyway – to nuclear news. Apart from the ever dangling sword of Damocles situation of North Korea, the news for the so-called peaceful nuclear industry is pretty bleak. The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 has just been released, and even in China things are crook.

Risk of ‘unacceptable war’ – if U.S.A. made a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea.

North Korea warns of possible atmospheric nuclear bomb test.  USA nuclear bombers to go back on 24 hour alert.

Two old former leaders,USA’s  Jimmy Carter and Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev talk sense, (but will anyone listen?)

Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow to accept Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN.  ICAN calls on Nobel Foundation to cease indirect nuclear arms investments.

AS UN Climate Change Conference draws near, Christian leaders demand implementation of Paris Agreement.

Record low prices for unsubsidised solar power.

EUROPE. With plummeting renewables costs, costly nuclear fusion unlikely to ever make sense.

JAPAN. What a difference a word makes: Japan weakens its annual anti-nuclear resolution!

USA.

UK. As renewable energy costs shrink, British government wastes money on Small Nuclear Reactor fantasy.  – Britain’s (really uneconomic) ‘peaceful’ nuclear power is actually subsidising nuclear weaponsSeaweed clogging up cooling system of EDF’s Hunterston B nuclear station in Scotland.

A subsidy ban for new onshore wind farms could add £1bn onto UK energy bills. Britain’s ‘Greater Manchester Big Clean Switch‘ welcomed by The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA).

BBC finally apologises for its uncritical interview with climate denialist Lord Lawson.

NORTH KOREA. Stresses on North Korea’s nuclear test mountain – becoming unstable?

INDIA. India-USA nuclear arrangement just an American marketing effort – “dead at the very beginning”. With its rapid growth in solar power, India now a leading clean energy generator.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba says large nuclear power project is not affordable.– South Africa’s opposition party ready to take legal action if govt fails High Court ruling on nuclear transparency

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea scrapping plans for 6 nuclear reactors, but will continue with 2.

FRANCE. Concern over condition of France’s aging nuclear reactors: 20 of the 58 currently shut down.

IRAN. Death sentence for man found guilty over Iran nuclear scientist killings.   IAEA boss Yukiya Amano to visit Iran.

NEW ZEALAND. New govt in New Zealand plans for 100% renewable energy.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

“No Unconstitutional Strike against North Korea” – Bill to prevent a Trump pre-emptive strike on North Korea

Democrats push bill to stop a Trump pre-emptive strike on North Korea

Conyers-Markey legislation has two Republican backers in House
President’s threat to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea fuelled nuclear war fears,
Guardian, Julian Borger 27 Oct 17, Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation aimed at preventing Donald Trump from launching a pre-emptive attack on North Korea, as concerns grew about the administration’s failure to explore talks with Pyongyang.

The new legislation prohibiting an attack on North Korea without congressional authority was launched by Democrats John Conyers in the House and Ed Markey in the Senate. It has two Republicans among the 61 backers in the House, but at present no formal Republican backing in the Senate.

“As a veteran of the Korean war, I am ashamed that our commander-in-chief is conducting himself in a reckless manner that endangers our troops stationed in South Korea and our regional allies,” Conyers said.

“President Trump’s provocative and escalatory rhetoric, with threats to unleash ‘fire and fury’ and ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, cannot be allowed to turn into reality,” Senator Markey said. “As long as President Trump has a Twitter account, we must ensure that he cannot start a war or launch a nuclear first strike without the explicit authorization of Congress.”

The bill’s supporters acknowledge that it will not pass without attracting more Republican support, but they argue that it helps focus attention on the unlimited authority of a US president to order the use of nuclear weapons, many of which can be launched within a few minutes. No official has the power to stop or even delay the launch.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, speaking at a conference organised by the Ploughshares Fund, an non-proliferation advocacy group said she once asked a former head of US Strategic Command if he would carry out a launch order even if he knew it was a catastrophically bad decision. “He looked me straight in the eye and said: Yes,” Senator Feinstein recalled……..

Ted Lieu, the Democratic congressman who co-authored the bill in January to limit the president’s power to launch a first strike said the best recruiter for Republican support was Trump’s behaviour.

“Every time the president does something erratic, which is every day, we get more co-sponsors,” Lieu said. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/26/democrats-push-bill-to-stop-a-trump-pre-emptive-strike-on-north-korea

October 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Future of Life award” – honour to Soviet submarine officer who averted nuclear war

Soviet submarine officer who averted nuclear war honoured with prize https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/27/vasili-arkhipov-soviet-submarine-captain-who-averted-nuclear-war-awarded-future-of-life-prize

Vasili Arkhipov, who prevented escalation of the cold war by refusing to launch a nuclear torpedo against US forces, is to be awarded new ‘Future of Life’ prize A senior officer of a Soviet submarine who averted the outbreak of nuclear conflict during the cold war is to be honoured with a new prize, 55 years to the day after his heroic actions averted global catastrophe.

On 27 October 1962, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov was on board the Soviet submarine B-59 near Cuba when the US forces began dropping non-lethal depth charges. While the action was designed to encourage the Soviet submarines to surface, the crew of B-59 had been incommunicado and so were unaware of the intention. They thought they were witnessing the beginning of a third world war.

Trapped in the sweltering submarine – the air-conditioning was no longer working – the crew feared death. But, unknown to the US forces, they had a special weapon in their arsenal: a ten kilotonne nuclear torpedo. What’s more, the officers had permission to launch it without waiting for approval from Moscow.

Two of the vessel’s senior officers – including the captain, Valentin Savitsky – wanted to launch the missile. According to a report from the US National Security Archive, Savitsky exclaimed: “We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not become the shame of the fleet.”

But there was an important caveat: all three senior officers on board had to agree to deploy the weapon. As a result, the situation in the control room played out very differently. Arkhipov refused to sanction the launch of the weapon and calmed the captain down. The torpedo was never fired.

 Had it been launched, the fate of the world would have been very different: the attack would probably have started a nuclear war which would have caused global devastation, with unimaginable numbers of civilian deaths.

“The lesson from this is that a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world,’’ Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, told the Boston Globe in 2002, following a conference in which the details of the situation were explored.

Now, 55 years after he averted nuclear war and 19 years after his death, Arkhipov is to be honoured, with his family the first recipients of a new award.

The prize, dubbed the “Future of Life award” is the brainchild of the Future of Life Insitute – a US-based organisation whose goal is to tackle threats to humanity and whose advisory board includes such luminaries as Elon Musk, the astronomer royal Prof Martin Rees, and actor Morgan Freeman.

“The Future of Life award is a prize awarded for a heroic act that has greatly benefited humankind, done despite personal risk and without being rewarded at the time,” said Max Tegmark, professor of physics at MIT and leader of the Future of Life Institute.

Speaking to Tegmark, Arkhipov’s daughter Elena Andriukova said the family were grateful for the prize, and its recognition of Arkhipov’s actions.

“He always thought that he did what he had to do and never considered his actions as heroism. He acted like a man who knew what kind of disasters can come from radiation,” she said. “He did his part for the future so that everyone can live on our planet.”

The $50,000 prize will be presented to Arkhipov’s grandson, Sergei, and Andriukova at the Institute of Engineering and Technology on Friday evening.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the Nobel peace prize-winning organisation, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said Arkhipov’s actions were a reminder of how the world had teetered on the brink of disaster. “Arkhipov’s story shows how close to nuclear catastrophe we have been in the past,” she said.

The timing of the award, Fihn added, is apt. “As the risk of nuclear war is on the rise right now, all states must urgently join the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons to prevent such catastrophe.”

Dr Jonathan Colman, an expert on the Cuban missile crisis at the University of Central Lancashire, agreed that the award was fitting.

“While accounts differ about what went on on board the B-59, it is clear that Arkhipov and the crew operated under conditions of extreme tension and physical hardship. Once the nuclear threshold had been crossed, it is hard to imagine that the genie could have been put back into the bottle,” he said.

“President Kennedy had been very worried about the possibility of a clash between American warships and Soviet submarines in the Caribbean, and it is absolutely clear that his fears were justified,” Colman added, noting that certain decisions at the operational level were out of his control. “Ultimately, it was luck as much as management that ensured that the missile crisis ended without the most dreadful consequences.”

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global warming might be far worse than we thought

Independent 26th Oct 2017, Global warming might be far worse than we thought, according to a new
study. The research challenges the ways that researchers have worked out
sea temperatures until now, meaning that they may be increasing quicker
than previously suggested. The methodology widely used to understand sea
temperatures in the scientific community may be based on a mistake, the new
study suggests, and so our understanding of climate change might be
fundamentally flawed.

The new research suggests that the oceans hundreds of
millions of years ago were much cooler than we thought. If true, that means
that the global warming we are currently undergoing is unparallelled within
the last 100 million years, and far worse than we had previously
calculated.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/climate-change-worse-water-temperature-reading-scientists-global-warming-ice-melt-weather-a8020696.html

October 28, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Japan Atomic Power Co. wants to extend life span of nuclear station near Tokyo

Operator set to request 20 years extra for Tokai nuclear plant http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710270036.html, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, October 27, 2017 Japan Atomic Power Co. is preparing to apply for a 20-year extension to operate the aged Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant beyond its 40-year life span, sources said.

Such an extension would be the first among Japan’s aged boiling-water reactors, which include those at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant’s reactor, which went into service in 1978, is in a heavily populated area not far from Tokyo.

The company deems the 20-year extension of the plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, as imperative to securing a stable revenue stream, the sources said.

However, the plan is expected to bring a host of challenges to the operator.

One is how to secure funds so as to cover the costs to improve safety at the old facility required under the more stringent nuclear regulations set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Another is to ease concerns of local governments of the area where nearly 1 million residents could be affected in the event of a serious accident.

The move toward the extension comes as the Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to rule that the plant has met standards set in the new regulations necessary for a restart, the sources said.

The Tokai No. 2 plant, about 120 kilometers from the heart of the capital, houses one unit capable of generating 1.1 gigawatts.

If Japan Atomic Power proceeds with its plan to apply for the extension, it needs to submit the application to the NRA by Nov. 28.

The Tokai No. 2 plant narrowly escaped a catastrophe like the one at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant when it was struck by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

It took Japan Atomic Power three and a half days to shut the reactor down when the disaster knocked out power. One of the three emergency generators installed there became dysfunctional after they were submerged by tsunami.

Some experts said it could have become impossible to keep cooling the reactor if the tsunami had been 70 centimeters higher.

Japan Atomic Power is keen to extend the operation of the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant as the facility is the only venue that will feasibly bring it revenue. It has no option but to apply for the extended operation,” said an official familiar with the management of the company.

Apart from the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant, Japan Atomic Power owns three other reactors: one at the Tokai nuclear plant, also in Tokai, and two at the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

The one at the Tokai nuclear plant and one unit at the Tsuruga nuclear plant are on their way to being decommissioned.

Prospects for whether the company can win approval for a restart of the remaining reactor at the Tsuruga nuclear plant are bleak, as it has been reported that the facility was likely built on an active seismic fault.

If the company pulled the plug on the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant, it would mean that it would be left with no revenue sources.

That expected management crisis could likely affect the bottom line of utilities such Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which has a stake in Japan Atomic Power.

The Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant supplies power to TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Co., and although extending its operation would keep those revenue sources open, it would also come with a huge price tag.

The company said Oct. 26 that the estimated costs of the safeguarding measures for a restart of the plant will balloon to about 180 billion yen ($1.58 billion), more than double the 78 billion yen projected initially.

The total sum is expected to further increase if Japan Atomic Power chooses to operate the plant beyond the 40-year limit, according to the sources.

The plant’s extended operation could prove to be a big headache for local governments nearby.

Municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius are required to draw up evacuation plans to prepare for a contingency in the post-Fukushima crisis years.

Hammering out workable plans for close to 1 million residents in the area is expected to be difficult, the sources said.

Even the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, is cautious about the extension.

“The consequences would be too enormous if an accident did occur,” said a ministry official.

(This story was written by Tsuneo Sasai and Yusuke Ogawa.)

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

False data on nuclear equipment from Kobe Steel – sent to Japanese company

Kobe Steel sent products with tampered data to nuclear companies, Cars, trains, planes … and nuclear facilities. REUTERS, Oct 27th 2017 TOKYO — Kobe Steel supplied parts with false specifications for nuclear equipment owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd, JNFL said on Friday, adding that the products were not used.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Nearly 60,000 people petition to stop radioactive mud being dumped off Cardiff.

Wales Online 26th Oct 2017, Nearly 60,000 people sign petitions to stop radioactive mud being dumped
off Cardiff. Campaigners say not enough research has been done on the
dangers of the mud from the decommissioned Hinkley A nuclear reactor.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/nearly-60000-people-sign-petitions-13817765

Somerset Live 25th Oct 2017, Concerns have been raised after more than 200,000 tonnes of ‘radioactive’
mud from Hinkley Point power station will be dumped in the Bristol Channel.
EDF Energy, the company behind Hinkley Point C development in Bridgwater,
has obtained a marine licence to dump up to 200,000 cubic metres of dredged
material in the Bristol Channel – just a mile off Cardiff Bay. The
dredging licence was granted to the French energy giant in 2013 and it
gives them the right to discharge materials at Cardiff Grounds, a sandbank
in the Bristol Channel.
http://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/radioactive-mud-hinkley-point-dumped-672554

October 28, 2017 Posted by | environment, opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Ballistic missiles: Limit them first. Then ban them

 To shore up the INF, the United States could propose something the Russians have already advocated—that the INF Treaty be expanded to ban this category of ballistic missiles globally.Such a move would not immediately apply to the most troubling nuclear-tipped missiles, those with ranges far in excess of 1,000 kilometers. But a worldwide INF could be a first step toward an eventual goal of banning all ballistic missiles.

https://thebulletin.org/ballistic-missiles-limit-them-first-then-ban-them11222,  JAMES E. DOYLE, 27 Oct 17  James E. Doyle is an independent nuclear security specialist. From 1997 to 2014, he was on the technical staff of the Nonproliferation Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 Ballistic missiles have beneficial purposes; they place satellites in orbit, and those satellites provide the world with vital communications capabilities and navigation and weather information. Ballistic missiles send astronauts and space stations into Earth orbit and research probes far across the solar system.

But ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads are enablers of apocalypse. There is no effective defense against these missiles, even though the United States has spent more than 30 years and $500 billion trying to build radars that can track them and interceptor missiles that will shoot them down.

Military ballistic missiles have other negative characteristics. The short time needed for them to reach target (if the United States and Russia are the assumed combatants, 10 to 30 minutes) creates pressure to launch first in a conflict. In a crisis, ballistic missiles on high alert can wind up becoming the leading edge of a devastating war begun by miscalculation.

Because of the obvious dangerousness of ballistic missiles, there is a long history of official efforts to limit or eliminate them. Those efforts have shown that agreements to reduce the dangers of ballistic missiles can catalyze improved relations between potential adversaries. The landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty required Washington and Moscow to eliminate all ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers. Both nations recognized that these missiles could not be defended against and their proximity to the Cold War boundaries of Europe meant they were highly destabilizing in a crisis. A total of 2,692 missiles (including a small number of cruise missiles) were eliminated under the treaty.

Acknowledging the danger of nuclear ballistic missiles, President Reagan proposed an agreement requiring their total elimination to Soviet leader Gorbachev at their summit in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1985. The Soviets did not accept the proposal because Reagan insisted that America’s program to build missile defenses remain unconstrained. That program—known then as the Strategic Defense Initiative and today as the National Missile Defense Program—has yet to develop effective means to defeat ballistic missiles.

In the mid 1990s, Alton Frye, then Washington director of the US Council on Foreign Relations, advocated an international ban on offensive ballistic missiles, an idea whose time has perhaps come again. Many political and technical challenges would need to be addressed to negotiate and enforce new international limitations on ballistic missiles. But model institutional and scientific mechanisms for such efforts exist in the form of preceding treaties, including INF and New START. Procedures and technologies for inspection, verification, and enforcement of agreements limiting or banning all types of ballistic missiles have already been proven. Political will, as usual is the major missing ingredient.

Former Defense Secretary William Perry and several other experts have recently advocated the elimination of the United States’ nuclear-armed, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). According to Perry, this component of America’s nuclear triad is no longer necessary to deter adversaries and is inherently dangerous, fueling instability during crises and arms races with Russia and China.

While Perry proposes to eliminate only land-based ballistic missiles and retain submarine-based missiles, such a move could create powerful international momentum to negotiate new international limits or bans on certain types of ballistic missiles—with an ultimate goal of banning all nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. If a united international community were to seriously consider such a course, it could bring increased pressure on North Korea, Iran, and other nations to suspend or roll back their offensive ballistic missile programs. If they refused, the possibility of using military force against their nuclear and ballistic missile programs would gain legitimacy and support.

One place to start seeking new limits on ballistic missiles has been in the news for months: the INF Treaty, which the United States and Russia have accused one another of violating. Russia’s support of the treaty has weakened over the years because it is forbidden to deploy ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometers, but its neighbors who are not party to the treaty are permitted to do so. China has many such missiles, and Turkey, South Korea, and Japan could develop them in the future. To shore up the INF, the United States could propose something the Russians have already advocated—that the INF Treaty be expanded to ban this category of ballistic missiles globally.

Such a move would not immediately apply to the most troubling nuclear-tipped missiles, those with ranges far in excess of 1,000 kilometers. But a worldwide INF could be a first step toward an eventual goal of banning all ballistic missiles. A renewed focus on the danger of these weapons—accompanied by US statements that it is willing to eliminate its land-based ICBMs under the right conditions—might elicit greater support from Russian and China in efforts to defuse the North Korean crisis and control Iranian missile testing.

Like the nuclear weapons ban treaty the UN recently adopted, a ballistic missile ban would require sustained, long-term effort to achieve anything like full success. But the United States has everything to gain from taking a leadership role and asserting that offensive ballistic missiles are dangerous and destabilizing weapons that should eventually be eliminated from the arsenals of all nations.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Complicated world of nuclear nations: Pakistan and India especially concerning

Nuclear club’s rival weapons and agendas pushing us into uncertain new world, SMH, David Wroe , 28 Oct 17   For all the heartburn about North Korea, many experts feel the greatest danger of nuclear war remains one between India and Pakistan.

Why? Their nuclear doctrines are downright hot-headed. Pakistan, intimidated by the much larger conventional forces of its neighbour and arch-rival, states that if Indian forces charge over the border, it would launch a nuclear strike on its own soil against the invaders.

Pakistan argues this would be self-defence, not a nuclear attack on India.

India of course sees it differently and vows it would retaliate with nuclear counter-strikes.

India moreover says it might retaliate with nuclear weapons if Pakistani terrorists – regarded as proxies for their country’s intelligence agencies – ever carried out another Mumbai-style massacre. That is more than a remote possibility.

“It’s scary. The last time there was a conflict, Pakistan devolved launch authority down to the field commander,” said John Carlson, an Australian former nuclear negotiator now serving as a counsellor to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group that works to reduce the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction.

India moreover says it might retaliate with nuclear weapons if Pakistani terrorists – regarded as proxies for their country’s intelligence agencies – ever carried out another Mumbai-style massacre. That is more than a remote possibility.

“It’s scary. The last time there was a conflict, Pakistan devolved launch authority down to the field commander,” said John Carlson, an Australian former nuclear negotiator now serving as a counsellor to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group that works to reduce the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction. “They say they’ve got better command and control now but I don’t know how much confidence you can have in that.”

If that’s not enough, India’s real nuclear rivalry is not even with Pakistan. It is with fellow rising power China. China in turn has nuclear deterrence strategies against the two established Cold War giants, the US and Russia.

The world, in short, is getting more complicated.

Nuclear weapons have been part of the strategic landscape for more than 70 years. But for most of this time, the standoff was between two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union. Then for a while there was one, the US.

That’s now changing to a world strategic boffins call “multipolar”, where power is fragmenting and redistributing. And some experts are wondering why this isn’t prompting a more urgent conversation about what it means for nuclear weapons and their proliferation.

David Cooper, a long-serving former Pentagon official who is now a professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, calls it “trans-regional nuclear arms racing”, something he says “we have never seen before in the relatively brief history of the nuclear age”.

“And we don’t know what deterrence or arms control would look like in this new context of potential nuclear multipolarity, which could involve simultaneous, and interconnecting, nuclear arms races within and across regions, because we have never been in a multipolar world since the dawn of the nuclear age,” Cooper said.

“This would be completely new if it comes to pass. That’s something we need to start thinking about.”

The world’s estimated 15,000 fusion and fission bombs remain the only weapons stockpile that poses a truly existential threat to humanity. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested, the Soviet “Tsar” bomb detonated in 1961, had nearly 5 million times the yield of the most powerful conventional bomb, the US-made MOAB.

The current crisis of Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program, and the postponed problem of Iran, are symptoms more than drivers of the fears of a more nuclear-armed world……http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/nuclear-clubs-rival-weapons-and-agendas-pushing-us-into-uncertain-new-world-20171027-gz9jkq.html

October 28, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

USA Defense Secretary Mattis stresses that diplomacy, not war, is the answer to the North Korea nuclear crisis

Pentagon Chief Mattis Stresses Diplomacy in North Korea Crisis, NBC News , by ASSOCIATED PRESS, 27 Oct 17 PANMUNJOM, Korea — On his first visit to the tense but eerily quiet frontier between North and South Korea as U.S. secretary of defense, Jim Mattis conveyed the message he hopes will win the day: Diplomacy is the answer to ending the nuclear crisis with the North, not war.

He made the point over and over — at the Panmunjom “truce village” where North literally meets South; at a military observation post inside the Demilitarized Zone, and in off-the cuff comments to U.S. and South Korean troops……https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/defense-secretary-mattis-accuses-north-korea-threatening-catastrophe-n814876?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2010.27.17&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20

October 28, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

$10.6 billion yearly: the cost to USA taxpayers of the subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants

Subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants ‘will cost US taxpayers $10.6bn a year’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/27/subsidize-coal-nuclear-plants-taxpayer-cost-rick-perry

Non-partisan analysis reveals the cost of energy secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to give handouts to some of the country’s oldest and dirtiest power plants, Guardian, Oliver Milman, 27 Oct 17, A Trump administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear energy would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year and prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, a new analysis has found.

The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are “indispensable for our economic and national security”.

Rick Perry, the energy secretary, said the subsidies were needed to avoid power outages “in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters”.

The plan would provide a lifeline to many ageing coal and nuclear plants that would otherwise go out of business, primarily due to the abundance of cheap natural gas and the plummeting cost of renewables.

The Department of Energy noted 531 coal-generating units were retired between 2002 and 2016, while eight nuclear reactors have announced retirement plans in the past year.

 Donald Trump has vowed to arrest this decline and end the “war” on mining communities by repealing various environmental regulations put in place during the Obama administration.

Perry’s pro-coal market intervention would cost taxpayers as much as $10.6bn a year over the next decade, according to a joint analysis by the non-partisan groups Climate Policy Initiative and Energy Innovation. Just a handful of companies, operating about 90 plants on the eastern seaboard and the midwest, would benefit from the subsidies, the report found.

“The irony of putting costs on consumers for resources that are no longer competitive is really striking,” said Brendan Pierpoint, energy finance consultant at Climate Policy Initiative. “It would serve to keep a lot of uneconomic plants in the market that currently can’t compete with the changing dynamics of cheap gas and the falling cost of renewables.”

The Trump administration has raised concerns that the growth of intermittent wind and solar energy could undermine the so-called “baseload” power provided by coal and nuclear, pointing to power outages during the Polar Vortex cold wave that swept over North America in 2014.

However, recent studies of the grid have found that it has not been weakened by the loss of coal and nuclear plants and is barely affected by power outages. Also, coal-fired plants are not immune to natural disasters, with facilities going offline during the Polar Vortex and Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas this year.

An unlikely alliance of renewable energy advocates and the American Petroleum Institute has complained that Perry’s plan tips the scales in favor of a failing coal industry and has vowed to fight the proposal. The rule would also jar with the supposed free market principles of an administration that has attacked subsidies for wind and solar, as well as intervention in healthcare insurance markets.

“Perry’s obsession with propping up these expensive, dirty facilities will cost Americans real money,” said Mary Anne Hitt, a campaigner at the Sierra Club.

“These ageing coal plants are making Americans sick, and now Secretary Perry wants to force us to pay tens of billions of dollars to Wall Street to keep them running, so they can continue polluting our air and water.”

Perry’s plan has to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is housed within the Department of Energy but is an independent agency. Two of FERC’s three commissioners were appointed by Trump, with one,Neil Chatterjee, already voicing support for subsidizing coal and nuclear. Perry has asked for a ruling on his request by 27 November.

The aggressively pro-fossil fuels stance of the Trump administration has been advanced elsewhere this week, with the House of Representatives approving a budget plan that would open the way for oil drilling in a vast Arctic wildlife refuge in Alaska.

Meanwhile, the interior department has released a plan to sweep away the regulatory “burdens” that slow down or prevent mining and drilling on public lands.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Mixed signals from South African govt on its nuclear build plan

FITCH: MAHLOBO APPOINTMENT SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON SA NUCLEAR PROGRAMME http://ewn.co.za/2017/10/27/fitch-mahlobo-appointment-sends-mixed-signals-on-sa-nuclear-programme

While Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba indicated that we don’t have enough money for the project, Fitch says it seems that government is still pushing for the project to go ahead with the new Energy Minister driving the process. Ilze-Marie Le Roux , 27 Oct 17, CAPE TOWN – Global ratings agency Fitch has raised questions about whether South Africa’s big nuclear build really is on the back burner.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, in his medium-term budget policy statement, indicated that we don’t have enough money for the project.

But in a bleak statement released on Thursday, Fitch says that the appointment of David Mhlobo as the new Energy Minister sends contradictory signals.

Fitch is sceptical about the status of the nuclear build, as the massive programme would see the construction of between six and eight nuclear plants with a very hefty price tag, a price tag South Africa just can’t afford at the moment.

Gigaba made that point crystal clear in his medium-term budget speech but ratings agency Fitch says it seems that government is still pushing for the project to go ahead with the new Energy Minister driving the process.

Fitch’s statement also raised concerns about the lack of a proper plan to cut spending or to raise revenue, saying that it suggests deep divisions within the ruling party.

Fitch has already downgraded both the country’s foreign and local denominated debt to sub-investment grade.

Moody’s and S&P Global have taken a wait and see approach.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

UK government obfuscated on costs of energy, and uncertainties about Hinkley Nuclear power

Sky News 25th Oct 2017, The Government has been accused of getting its sums “spectacularly” wrong
on the energy market and locking customers into excessive prices for years
to come, in an independent review commissioned by ministers. Professor
Dieter Helm, who was asked in the summer to carry out the review, said
prices had gone up for many households and businesses despite lower
wholesale costs and greater efficiencies. He also warned of a “cliff edge”
for electricity capacity leading up to 2025 amid uncertainty about when the
much-delayed new nuclear reactor at Hinkley comes online. The report said
that Government models of energy costs in the first half of the current
decade had at times been “spectacularly bad”, as they predicted surging
fossil fuel prices.
http://news.sky.com/story/government-made-spectacularly-bad-call-on-energy-prices-report-11098293

October 28, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) dithers on decision about continued operation of old reactors

 La Tribune 27th Oct 2017,[Machine Translation] The postponement of the generic Nuclear Safety
Authority (ASN) opinion on the continued operation of certain reactors
beyond the age of 40, revealed on 24 October, could have serious
consequences for the implementation of the law. And,
beyond, on the image of nuclear power in the public opinion, and the
perception of the role of the State in terms of energy strategy.
http://www.latribune.fr/entreprises-finance/industrie/energie-environnement/nucleaire-la-trajectoire-energetique-francaise-se-complique-755755.html

October 28, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment